Role of pharmacists recognised in Budget: PSA

an pharmacist holding up a piggy bank employee pharmacist wages money earning funding salary salaries wage

The PSA has welcomed Budget support for general practice pharmacists, while SHPA is pleased with the “strong and sustainable focus” on medicines and public hospitals

PSA has welcomed the announcement in Tuesday night’s 2018-19 Federal Budget for a new Workforce Incentive Program.

Under the new program, the government will provide financial incentives to support general practices to employ allied health professionals, including non-dispensing pharmacists.

Around 5,000 practices will be eligible to receive incentives payments of up to $125,000 a year under the scheme.

“We welcome [Tuesday night’s] Budget, and are particularly pleased to see the role of pharmacists is now being recognised through inclusion in this important program,” says Dr Shane Jackson, National President of the PSA.

“This outcome has been achieved through the continued parallel advocacy of the PSA and other organisations, primarily the Australian Medical Association.

“As the government-appointed peak body for pharmacists, we look forward to working with the government and our medical colleagues on the training, credentialing and standards of practice for pharmacists working in these practices; and ensuring these complement and align with the range of professional programs provided through community pharmacy.”

This announcement signals a sustainable career pathway for pharmacists working collaboratively within the general practice team, according to Dr Chris Freeman, PSA National Vice-President and general practice pharmacist.

“This is a win for patients through improved quality use of medicine outcomes, a win for the pharmacy profession through a new sustainable career pathway, and a win for government through return on investment in primary care,” says Dr Freeman.

Meanwhile the Society of Hospitals Pharmacists of Australia (SHPA) says it shares the Federal Government’s vision for the PBS to offer maximum value to Australian patients in a sustainable manner.

“The $2.4 billion commitment to both currently-scoped and future new medicines on the PBS shows strong ongoing support for streamlined access to the best treatments for Australian patients, as soon as they are available,” says SHPA CEO Kristin Michaels.

“Hospital pharmacists facilitate 22% of PBS expenditure – a proportion that is growing each year – and play a crucial role managing the introduction of cutting-edge medicines and, on behalf of our members, we welcome tonight’s strengthening of the Life Saving Drugs Program, including the introduction of additional listings.

“We would welcome further consultation on how medicines remuneration can be best managed to achieve optimal health outcomes for all Australians.”

The organisation also stated its support for funding for education and training modules for health providers to increase prescribing of generic and biosimilar medicines.

“Hospital pharmacists have led the way supporting greater use of these medicines, which are of comparable quality, safety, and efficacy but can deliver significant cost savings,” says Ms Michaels.

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  1. Manya Angley

    Great news about practice incentives for pharmacists in all locations from July 2019 and well done to the organisations and individuals who worked towards this announcement.
    Two key issues, in my opinion;
    1. We need to ensure this promise becomes a reality. There was a budget announcement that post-discharge medication reviews would be funded in 2010 and it never came to fruition.
    2. Both the hospital & community pharmacy sectors will understandably be concerned that there will be attrition of community and hospital pharmacists to general practice – a particular concern in rural locations.
    An Australian Prescriber article by Freeman, Rigby et al, ‘The practice pharmacist: a natural fit in the general practice team’, states “turf wars” are a potential barrier to implementation to integrating pharmacists in general practice (VOLUME 39 : NUMBER 6 : DECEMBER 2016). This article also states “A practice pharmacist has the potential to reduce fragmentation of care, improve medication management and improve communication between GPs and pharmacists working within community pharmacies.”
    Turf wars were apparently a key barrier to rolling out the funded post discharge pathway. Our whole profession needs to focus on working together and our common goal; optimising patient care. Consumers value and want more input from pharmacists in all settings along the care continuum. There is plenty of work for everyone and now we have the opportunity to get it right for patients

    • GlassCeiling

      A great step in the right direction , however , we need direct funding to prevent general practice absorbing these incentives into their admin costs and leaving the rest to offer meagre pay to allied health. General practice deserves a smal incentive payment to be paid directly to them for taking on the allied health.
      It is disconcerting that the $125000 is directed to allied health rather than non- dispensing pharmacists as the funding pool will be rapidly diminished . Can this funding be spent on practice nurses ? If so there will be little left for us.

      • Manya Angley

        Hi Glass Ceiling,

        Advice from Debbie Rigby is as follows: The funding is likely to be based on the number of FTE GPs. Plus a loading for rural areas. GPs will be able to select which health professionals to employ under this practice incentive – it may be non-dispensing pharmacists, nurse practitioners, diabetes educators etc. or a combination.

        I personally have always preferred the model where pharmacists have MBS funding A MBS item number(s) would enable the pharmacist to maintain some independence in a general practice and ensure our activities are focused on medication management and did not get diluted with developing care plans etc. Apparently MBS item numbers can take years to get through and require a health economic analysis. The Medicare freeze that GPs have been subjected to is also a concern. The practice incentive is at least, as you say, a step in the right direction

        • Karalyn Huxhagen

          We have been discussing MBS items numbers since 1997 and I am still awaiting. I agree that this is a huge step forward. My fear and hesitation is how this ,i’ve will be managed around the new funding model for GP practices under the medical home funding modelling. i have attended many meetings on this new initiative as my PHN is an active participant in early roll out as is the neighbouring PHN where I perform the majority of my HMRs. Will this funding be absorbed into the new medical home model. There is a lot of discussion at practice manager and owner levels as how best to mange these new models. The meetings I have attended have been long and heated and pharmacist has not been on the list of ‘allied health professionals. well done and congrats to all who have reached this goal. at implementation level I share Manya’s concerns . Not all GP practices understand the new billing formulas that are coming in . I hope there will be clarity for this integration at a practice manager and owner level and we are not sucked into a void that is currently occurring with the new medical home modelling.

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